Motivation Fashion: the Quick and the Soulful

Fashion: the Quick and the Soulful



From left, on Isaiah Christophe: Brooks Running Drift Shell in Marathon Nano. $135, Mountain Equipment Co-Op Instinct tights, $90; on Renée Foessell, Old Navy half-zip top, $29.94; on Curtis Thom, Under Armour Launch Run ¼ zip in Blue Jet, $79.99; on Jessica Lewis, Under Armour Storm Layered Up Hoodie in Veneer, $114.99; on Austin Smeenk, Mountain Equipment Co-Op Nitro Thermal run jacket, $95, Mountain Equipment Co-Op Core Shot short-sleeved top, $21, Mountain Equipment Co-Op Mercury 2 tights, $75, HOKA Clifton 2 Road running shoes, $155.

PHOTOS BY: Darren Calabrese, STYLED BY: Karen Kwan


Austin Smeenk, standing in the blue MEC jacket, is an 18 year old with cerebral palsy who has been training as a wheelchair athlete since he was 12. This summer, he was registered for three events at Toronto’s Parapan Am Games, when suddenly he learned all of his events were cancelled. “You don’t even know what to do or feel — it just sucks,” says Smeenk. “All that time training and then to have it all disappear — yeah, I was pissed.” Smeenk let his bad mood simmer for exactly one week (the events were cancelled for lack of participants in his disability class). “I had to do something to avoid feeling powerless. What am I going to do?” he says. “I got back in my chair and started to train.” The following pages are a tribute to our Parapan Am athletes and Paralympians — to athletes who overcome obstacles while finding new finish lines and breaking barriers of what any of us can do. Here, they’re modelling winter’s best cold-weather running clothing. We’ll see you outside. Button up.


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Isaiah Christophe considers himself lucky. Born with Spina bifida, he’s never taken a step in his life. Still, the 21 year old, pictured right, focuses on what he has, not what he’s missing out on. “Honestly, I’m grateful,” says Christophe, who counts Curtis Thom as a role model. “I’ve been all over the world and met extraordinary people and I’m just not sure that would’ve happened had I been born like everyone else.”

Christophe came to track after playing hockey and basketball and he’s looking forward to a busy training period before the 2016 Paralympic Trials in July. “I’m a nice person. I’m a quiet person. I like to smile and have fun, but I’m also a very, very competitive person and when I show up to race, I come to work,” Christophe says. “I’d love to represent Canada in Rio. I love showing people what I can do.”



 Clockwise, from left: on Renée Foessell, IZ Adaptive Leather Biker Jacket Easy-Zip Back, $599.99 USD, IZ Adaptive Open-Snap Back Tee, $34 USD, Lolë Burst Leggings in Black Snowstorm, $100, Skechers sneakers; on Jessica Lewis, H&M jacket, $49.99, Old Navy Active Compression Leggings, $34.94, Under Armour sneakers. 

“I use track as a way to cope with things. If I’m having a stressed out day I’ll work out and refocus and come back to the situation and find I’m not being as emotional about it,” says Jessica Lewis, pictured, bottom right, who took bronze in October at the IPC World Championships in Qatar. “It helps me to focus on my abilities instead of my disabilities.”

Lewis, 22, was born in Bermuda and had her spine split as the result of a born spur before she was one. It never stopped her from rock climbing or riding horseback. “My mom was always super supportive and I was raised believing that there’s nothing that I can’t do,” says Lewis, who’s studying Therapeutic Recreation at Brock University. “Besides sports, where the big prize is Rio, I’m dedicating my life to working with people with disabilities and letting them know that having a disability doesn’t mean you can’t do anything that you want.”